Predictors of Sleep-Problem Trajectories across Adolescence
Pine, Abigail Esther
Stress and sleep problems are significantly associated in adolescents, and this relation is particularly strong in youth with a family history of depression. Few longitudinal studies, however, have evaluated the relation between stress and sleep at multiple time points across adolescence. The current study addressed this gap in the literature by examining relations between sleep problems and stressful life events across four time points in a sample of adolescents with varying risk for psychopathology. Participants included 223 adolescents (54.7% female) and 223 mothers (76.7% with a history of a mood disorder during the adolescents’ lifetime). Youth were evaluated in grade 7 (M = 12.69 years, SD = 0.61) and again in grades 8, 9, and 11. Sleep problems were assessed as part of a clinical interview, and weekly stressful life events were measured with the Life Events Interview for Adolescents. Multi-group latent growth curve analyses were conducted. Among youth whose mothers had a history of depression, sleep problems significantly increased over time (p < .001) and higher stress ratings during the prior three months predicted higher levels of sleep problems at each time point (p < .001). Across the entire sample, a greater level of sleep problems predicted higher stress ratings a year later at each time point (p ≤ .001). These findings indicate that the significant association between stress and sleep extends across multiple years of adolescence and is particularly salient for offspring of mothers with a history of depression. Results highlight possible targets for preventative interventions for sleep problems in youth.